Friday, May 25, 2012

Plosker - Not All Op-Eds Are Equal in the New York Times

Simon Plosker..
Honest Reporting..
24 May '12..

Could the New York Times possibly publish an opinion piece that didn’t paint Israel in the worst possible light? Seemingly not as column inches are given over to Yousef Munayyer in a piece damningly titled “Not All Israeli Citizens Are Equal”.

Sitting from his office in Washington DC, Munayyer begins:

I’m a Palestinian who was born in the Israeli town of Lod, and thus I am an Israeli citizen. My wife is not; she is a Palestinian from Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. …

Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion International Airport is on the outskirts of Lod (Lydda in Arabic), but because my wife has a Palestinian ID, she cannot fly there; she is relegated to flying to Amman, Jordan. If we plan a trip together — an enjoyable task for most couples — we must prepare for a logistical nightmare that reminds us of our profound inequality before the law at every turn.

Even if we fly together to Amman, we are forced to take different bridges, two hours apart, and endure often humiliating waiting and questioning just to cross into Israel and the West Bank. The laws conspire to separate us.

If the point of Munayyer’s article is to promote a view where Israel’s Arab citizens are treated unequally, then he has failed. The very fact that he takes a different bridge shows that Israeli Jews and Arabs are treated equally. The border crossing for Israeli citizens is just that. It defines Munayyer as an Israeli without prejudice as to whether he is Arab or Jewish.

As for the fact that Munayyer’s wife is Palestinian and does not have the same rights as her husband to live with him in Israel: We’ve heard the same charge only a few weeks ago in The Australian, which attempted to portray Israel as an apartheid state based on its citizenship laws. At that time, HonestReporting pointed out that any Israeli Jewish citizen would have the same problems marrying a resident of the Palestinian territories as an Israeli Arab.

In a very selective reading of history, Munayyer paints Israel as responsible for the Palestinian refugee problem and subsequent alleged discrimination, including an attack on the rights of Jews to immigrate to Israel. More revealing than what he says is what Munayyer omits. For example:

- The Palestinian refugee problem was a result of a war that was started by the Palestinian and Arab side in an attempt to wipe out the newborn State of Israel – a situation that prompted subsequent Israeli security measures.

- Similarly, Munayyer never mentions security or terrorism as possible reasons for the status of his wife and other Palestinians.

- Irrespective of the above, every country, including Israel, has the sovereign right to determine its own citizenship rules. After all, marriage does not automatically confer citizenship or residency rights to a non-citizen, which is also the case in the US and many other countries.

Munayyer doesn’t miss the opportunity to bring in the apartheid charge:

Tragically for Palestinians, Zionism requires the state to empower and maintain a Jewish majority even at the expense of its non-Jewish citizens, and the occupation of the West Bank is only one part of it. What exists today between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is therefore essentially one state, under Israeli control, where Palestinians have varying degrees of limited rights: 1.5 million are second-class citizens, and four million more are not citizens at all. If this is not apartheid, then whatever it is, it’s certainly not democracy.

It’s certainly not apartheid and the area that exists today between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is not one state. Munayyer may, instead, be alluding to his vision for the disappearance of Israel as a Jewish state in favor of a Palestinian one by virtue of simple demographics.

That this particular focus on the rights or otherwise of Israeli Arabs marrying residents of the Palestinian territories has appeared both in The Australian and New York Times in quick succession would indicate a concerted and organized effort by Palestinian activists to use this issue as a stick with which to beat Israel. That the New York Times has consented to be part of this campaign is not a surprise and is yet another indicator of the Gray Lady’s bias towards Israel.

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